This is the sixth post in a series of blog posts based on interviews I’m doing with midwives who serve Utah County.
Today’s post is based on a conversation with Amy Ihrig. Amy owns Joyful Birth Midwifery Services. She has been in the birth community for 15 years (starting out as a doula), and has been a midwife for about five years. She graduated from Midwives College of Utah and is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). Amy attends home births in northern Utah County. Amy is passionate about learning and teaching, and it shows with the wide ranges of classes and services she offers! In addition to being a midwife, Amy is also a Bradley Method Childbirth educator. The Bradley method focuses on how husbands can support their wives during labor and birth. She also teaches infant massage classes for new parents, as well as comfort measures classes, which she calls “doula dad” courses. And she teachers mother/daughter maturation classes using the Maidens by His Design curriculum, a Christian-based program to help mothers and daughters understand and communicate about their incredible bodies.
As you can surely tell from that impressive list, Amy believes in the power of education and the wonder of birth. She truly believes that birth can and should be a joyful experience. Amy is a holistic care provider; rather than just considering her clients’ medical well-being, she looks at the whole picture of their overall wellness as part of her care.
Like many midwives I’ve interviewed, Amy began her journey to midwifery as a doula. She decided to become a doula after her awesome second birth experience (an accidental home birth—keep reading for the details!) After nearly a decade as a doula, she felt called to expand her scope of practice to be able to provide fullness of care—medical and beyond—to her clients.
Since I’ve noticed this doula-->midwife pattern in several conversations with midwives I’ve interviewed, and I’m currently riding the doula-->midwife trajectory after having a transformatively awesome birth, I joked with Amy that having an amazing birth is a “gateway drug” for aspiring birth professionals.
Give a woman an amazing birth, and she’ll want to become a doula. When she becomes a doula, she’ll love it and realize the importance of education along the pregnancy and birth journey. She’ll decide to become a childbirth educator. When she becomes a childbirth educator, she’ll realize that she could expand her circle of influence even more by becoming a midwife. When she becomes a midwife, she’ll continue to seek opportunities for learning and growth to better serve her clients and invite them to have amazing births. And when her clients have amazing births…
(Now that’s a version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, or, rather, If You Give a Woman an Amazing Birth that I can get behind! Give me that kind of ripple effect any day!)
Back to Amy’s journey from amazing birth to doula to midwife.
Before becoming a doula, Amy was staunchly opposed to home birth. Then, she had an accidental home birth. Her labor moved along much more rapidly than she expected, so she birthed her baby in her bedroom with baffled paramedics as her birth attendants. The birth was smooth and beautiful, and something in Amy shifted. Her next birth was a planned home birth, and the rest is history.
Now, Amy is a strong proponent of home birth and the opportunity it affords for an intimate birthing experience. She loves supporting her clients as they make informed decisions in the peace of their own home. “My ideal client,” Amy says, “is someone who takes responsibility for their own choices. They will listen to the education that I’m providing them, and they will pursue further research in helping themselves to stay healthy and low-risk.”
Having a joyful home birth is not a fictional fantasy. Amy’s passion and work is to make the dream of a joyful home birth a reality for her clients. Preparing for a home birth requires research and work, and a supportive and experienced midwife. We are lucky, here in Utah County, to have so many such options! And we’re fortunate that Amy Ihrig is among them.
The new Intermountain hospital in Spanish Fork opened yesterday (April 5, 2021), and let me tell you... they are doing things right for birthing families! I had the privilege of touring the hospital a couple of weeks ago, and I am just giddy with some of the features they included in their Women and Newborn wing. I'll highlight my favorites below.
First of all, will you just take a look at this gorgeous tub?!
There are six labor and delivery rooms in the new Spanish Fork, and three of them feature one of these beauties! The tubs have a variety of built-in stools and foot rests to enable a variety of labor positions in the tub. The hospital isn't currently set up for water births, but these tubs do drain quickly if baby is coming and you don't want to climb out of the tub.
These fantastic tubs are the central features of the large labor and delivery rooms they are in, which also include a couch that folds out into a bed, a recliner, a bathroom with a shower, and plenty of room to walk/dance/squat/do whatever feels right! The hospital will also have wireless, waterproof contraction/fetal monitors to enable monitoring and movement simultaneously.
After birthing your baby in one of these rooms, you'll then move down the hall to the other side of the unit to a postpartum room. There are twelve postpartum rooms, and they are attended by the same nurses who attend the labor and delivery rooms, enabling greater continuity of care throughout your stay at the hospital. As a special touch, each family will enjoy a celebration meal in their postpartum room, served at a decorated table on beautiful dishes. What a fun idea!
For families who want to expedite their hospital stay, the Spanish Fork hospital also has one room for their Simply Birth program. Participants in this program do most of their postpartum education at home so that they can check out of the hospital faster after birth. The largest room at the end of the hallway in the Mother and Newborn unit is reserved for participants in the Simply Birth program, who will labor, give birth, and recover in the same room. Here it is:
I can't wait to see all of these features put to use as I support clients birthing at this hospital! And...........
In about two years, things will be even better!
That's the projected timeline for the opening of the birth center that is adjacent to the hospital! This space is technically not part of the hospital, though the two buildings are connected. The birth center will be staffed by Certified Nurse Midwives who work at the Intermountain clinic alongside the hospital.
The birth center is currently under construction, but I got to take a peek at it as well! There will be two birthing rooms at the birth center, which right now look something like this:
Let's zoom in on some of my favorite features! Here's a close-up of the nice large tub in the birthing center, as well as ceiling attachments for a labor sling!
Rather than a narrow hospital bed, these birth center rooms will feature a queen size bed with room for the whole family. The beds haven't been installed yet, but I took a picture of the wall where the bed will go so that you can fill it in with a queen size bed in your mind.
I love that this birth center will be right next to the hospital, to give families peace of mind in knowing that if a transfer to the hospital is needed (or desired), it's just a quick walk/roll down the hallway that connects the two fourth-floor facilities.
What questions do you have about the new birthing facilities in Spanish Fork? I'm not an expert, or an Intermountain employee, but I did ask a lot of questions on the tour! I'd be happy to chat more!
I can't wait for families of Utah County to start enjoying these new facilities! I look forward to supporting many families as a doula in these awesome new spaces!
Hi, I'm Sara. I'm a birth + postpartum doula serving Utah county. I'm a twin mom (plus one!), natural VBACer, and birth lover!